HISTORY OF THE STORE 1900 - 2002
D.L. James, Town Supply Stores was founded on 1 August 1900 at 16 Windsor Place, Ynysybwl by Mr D L James (Luke) and Mrs M A James (Ann). They had only been married 6 months when they opened the store. The store prospered and became known locally as "DL's". Luke and Ann had five children, May, Edith, Handel, Helena and Tegwedd. In 1936, DL died aged 60. Whilst Ann, his widow retained ownership of the store, it was the eldest daughter, Miss May James who took over the running of the store, ably assisted by her manager, Mr John Evans, better known as "Johnny DL". Johnny DL was no relation to the family but worked in the store from 1901, when he was 12 years old, until he retired in 1959, aged 70.
DL's son Handel died in 1946, leaving a widow Jennie and two children, Nan and Leighton (whose initials are also DL). Jennie assisted in the store on a part-time basis until her retirement in 1969. Two of DL's grandchildren started in the store in early 1957, namely, Mr Leighton James, son of Handel, and Miss Mair Williams, daughter of Helena. When Johnny DL eventually retired in 1959, Mr Elfed Williams was 'head hunted' from a local competitor to become the new manager to assist Miss May James. His cause was probably helped by the fact that he was DL's son-in-law, being married to Helena.
Ann James died in 1964, leaving the store to the eldest daughter May, who continued running the store until 1969, retaining her brother-in-law Elfed as manager. However, on 3 March 1969, the current owners, Leighton and Margaret James, bought the store from Leighton's aunt May, who then retired. Leighton and his wife Margaret retained Elfed as manager, until his retirement in 1975.
With competition from large supermarket chains and the counter service store becoming old fashioned and out-dated, Leighton and Margaret decided radical action was required. In 1976 they joined the Red Dragon Guild of the SPAR Banner Group. However, before being accepted by SPAR, they had to gut the old shop and totally refit the store as a modern self-service shop. The new store was opened on 5 August 1976, and trade improved dramatically. However, as trade improved, inadequacies in the new shop became apparent. At only 450 square feet, it was far too small. Major redevelopment was required. Taking 12 months, and incorporating the family's living area behind the shop and the large warehouse to the side, the shop was extended from 450 square feet to 1850 square feet and was transformed into the modern convenience supermarket that it is today. The new store was opened on 8 March 1979, 10 years to the month that Leighton and Margaret took over ownership and the running of the store.
Whilst the exterior of the shop has remained relatively unchanged, the internal layout of the store has changed with the times, and trading patterns. In line with SPAR's trading doctrine, the shop has adapted to market forces. The emphasis is now firmly based on supplying the needs of the 'convenience shopper' rather than providing the range of items required by the 'grocery shopper' who now tend to visit the large out of town supermarkets.
Leighton's services to the community of Ynysybwl, both through the store and other philanthropic activities, were recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in June 2001. Leighton was appointed a Member of the order of the British Empire (MBE) for 'services to business and the local community in Ynysybwl, Rhondda Cynon Taff'.
Leighton and Margaret are to be the last generation of the James family to own and run the store. Their two children, Karen and Huw, have careers of their own, so when Leighton and Margaret take a well deserved retirement on 18 July 2002 the store is to be sold to Mr & Mrs M Amin of Pontypridd. Leighton and Margaret will however continue to live in Ynysybwl and will continue to participate and take an active interest in many of the village's activities.
Courtesy of Mr. Huw James